Giving an overview of the Pay No Bribe Campaign, ACC Public Education Officer Abdulai Saccoh underscored the significance of the campaign; noting, it was as a result of a direct response to the 2013 Transparency International Afro-barometer survey which stated that 84% of Sierra Leoneans had either given a bribe in order to access public services or had accepted a bribe to provide public services. In 2014, a similar survey was carried out in the country where 41% of the respondents accepted to have offered a bribe, but it witnessed a reduction of 53% as compared to the one done in previous year. Saccoh informed his audience that the PNB is a scientific approach used to study the trend of bribery and its prevalence in the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). He added that, it is a modern system which provides citizens the platform to report any incidence of bribery and petty corruption anonymously. He further stated that PNB is not an investigative focus campaign; but rather, it is one that invokes administrative action or systems/policy reforms to address either bribery or petty corruption in the piloted MDAs. Consequently, ACC will publish the data from the report center, highlighting trends among public services as well as progressive actions taken by MDAs.
The Public Education Officer disclosed that the campaign is being implemented in Bombali, Bo, Kenema, Western Area Urban and Rural within a pilot phase of six months; targeting five MDAs namely: Health, Education, Water sector, Energy and the Sierra Leone Police. Saccoh informed them that citizens can report through the PNB hotline; which is 515 for all networks, the website or on mobile application in Krio, Mende and Temne.
Speaking on the causes and effects of bribery, ACC Senior Public Education Officer David Kanekey Conteh explained bribery as enshrined in Section 28, of 2008 AC Act as ” A person who, whether in Sierra Leone or elsewhere, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, gives, agrees to give or offers an advantage to a public officer as an inducement to or reward for otherwise on account of such public officer…. performing or abstaining from performing… expediting, delaying, hindering or preventing… assisting, favouring, hindering or delaying…”. Conteh noted that bribery should not be seen as a way of life, as it is neither part of our custom nor our tradition.
He catalogued the causes of bribery such as: misuse of discretionary power, lack of professional integrity, lack of transparency and accountability, non-enforcement of the law, perversion of societal values and norms and weak or absence of management systems. Herein, Conteh went on to highlight some of the effects of bribery as poor infrastructure, increase cost of goods and services, increased poverty, shoddy work and stalled projects, poor medical services, reduced investments in the economy, rise in crime rate and insecurity, negative international image, to name just few. The Senior Public Education Officer said poverty should not be used as an excuse to solicit and accept bribe. He advised his audience to desist from either receiving or paying bribes for the building of a better nation.
Dilating on the role of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) in the Pay No Bribe Campaign, ACC Regional Manager North, Abu Bakarr Kamara said the mandate of ACC was borne out of the duties of the SLP. Manager Kamara stated that bribery has a far reaching effect on the lives of the people and should not be tolerated. Manager Kamara stated that the Police should be a dignified institution and a key anti-graft crusader, while noting that endemic bribery in the Police could result to a breakdown of law and order. He urged his audience to remain resolved to change the negative public perception about the SLP.
Manager Kamara emphasized that though the two institutions have their specific mandates, they should continue to collaborate in order to save the image of the country. He stated that the role of the SLP in the Pay No Bribe Campaign is to ensure that they dispense their duties in accordance with the law; they should report incidents of bribery in the SLP and other MDAs as well. The Complaint, Discipline and Internal, Investigation Department (CDIID) should remain resolved in enforcing their internal control systems and all police personnel should resist, reject and report any incidence of bribery to the PNB hotline or using the other reporting platform.
Earlier, the Divisional Crime Officer Panlap Division, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mohamed Fofanah in his welcome statement commended ACC for its public education drive, noting that it will help in the fight against corruption. ASP Forfanah encouraged his personnel to listen attentively and adhere to the advice of the Commission.
Questions and answers formed the high point of the meeting.